Sipping a large Starbucks Coffee at Heathrow airport, I am thrilled that I have a five hour halt before I board my next flight to Washington DC. While most people would shop at Duty Free stores or window shop at designer outlets, I prefer to ‘People Gaze’. The farewells and the welcomes, the rushes and the waits have provided me with mesmerizing opportunities to study people and behaviors.
This morning in Aug 2013, I am fascinated by the number of young people who travel across continents to study abroad or work. The world is truly shrinking, not in terms of distance alone, but in many ways. Youth around the world dress in a similar fashion (Jeans and shirt, coats etc) and unless I look at their faces I am not sure from which part of the world they come from. As they order their cups of coffee, I am surprised and delighted with the ease with which they converse in English. They talk about International issues as responsible Global Citizens. We
(Teachers and parents) should all be proud, we raised our kids well. They look beyond boundaries and barriers in search of their destiny.
10 year ago, at the same airport my experience was different. There were more young people dressed in the traditional clothes of their respective countries and continents, speaking in their native languages. I was then mesmerized by the vibrant colours of their clothes, their design and the music that their words produced. I ask my self –“Which of the two experiences has been more enriching?”
Jan 2014, I am back teaching a class on Biodiversity and the need to preserve and conserve it. The reason, our top priority, ‘Save the Earth!’, because we understand that diversity=richness + health of the biosphere. Species across the global are facing the 6th Extinction and are disappearing at an alarming rate. Many of us have Africa on our bucket list, for the fear that the wildlife there (in its natural habitat) might not last another generation.
Jan 2015, I am on my way to the Annual Day Celebrations of a little school nestled at the cusp of a Wild Life Sanctuary and the madness of a large Metropolis. As I settle down to watch the show, tiny tots narrate the story of “Punya Koti” (The story of truthful cow and a compassionate Tiger) in English. I wonder why the story is being narrated ahead of the musical. The show begins and children in rural Indian clothes (sarees, dhotis, kurtas, and pajamas), with Animal Masks, set the stage on Fire. As the story unfolds in Kannada, I marvel at the dance steps which are adaptations of classical and folk dance forms of India. Although I do not understand the language, the expressions on the faces of the children tells me the story in all its beauty and flavours of Karnataka’s rich cultural heritage permeates the auditorium.
I have found answers to my questions – Global or Local? Modernity or Traditionalism? We need both. As we evolve and become more global in our thought, we need to preserve, conserve and appreciate our rich and varied Culture and Heritage. It gives us our unique Identity, it binds us to our core values and above all it preserves the diversity of mankind for generations to come.
Little kids with hearts resonating with the ‘Soul of India’ from the School of India, Bangalore, showed us the way that night and made us aware of the reason as to why preserving our Culture and Heritage OUGHT be OUR Top Priority.
This Guest Post has been written by Manju Balasubramanyam, DPS North Bangalore Principal